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Police raided an apartment in Phoenix on Monday after two unnamed gunmen were killed by a Texas traffic officer when they tried to get into a contest calling for cartoon depictions of the prophet Muhammad hosted by an anti-Islam group in a Dallas suburb.
Police officials in the suburb of Garland, Texas, refused to confirm reports of the gunmen’s identity, their religious or political affiliations, or even if the shooting, which took place on Sunday, was related to the content of the event.
Multiple news outlets, citing a senior FBI official, reported that one of the gunmen, a resident of the Phoenix apartment, was known to authorities and had been the subject of a terror investigation. The Guardian cannot confirm this, and Harn refused to confirm those reports.
The co-founder of the group behind the contest to award $10,000 for the best cartoon depiction of Muhammad is a New Yorker who runs a blog that campaigns to stop the “Islamification” of America.
Pamela Geller used her blog Atlas Shrugs to declare “this is war” in the hours after the shooting of two gunmen at the contest. The event had been organised by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, a group she set up with Robert Spencer in 2010.
Geller, the winner of numerous awards from far-right organisations such as the David Horowitz Freedom Center, is credited with coining the term “ground zero mega mosque” as part of highly publicised campaign against the development of a community centre, which included a mosque, a few blocks from where the twin towers once stood in New York.
Al Jazeera America
Federal agents searched an apartment in Phoenix as part of an investigation into a shooting outside of a suburban Dallas venue hosting a provocative contest for Prophet Muhammad cartoons, the FBI confirmed Monday.
A police officer shot and killed two gunmen who opened fire outside the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland on Sunday night. A security guard suffered a gunshot wound to his lower leg, but was treated at a hospital and released hours later, said Garland officer Joe Harn.
"We were able to stop those men before they were able to penetrate the area and shoot anyone else," Harn said.
Harn said the men had used assault rifles, and that one officer had fatally shot both gunmen. Harn also said investigators searched the men's car and detonated several suspicious items, but no bombs were found in the vehicle.
Police and FBI on Monday searched the Arizona apartment of one of two gunmen shot dead on Sunday after they allegedly opened fire with assault rifles outside a Texas exhibit of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad.
Police and federal agents had planned security for months ahead of the event in the Dallas suburb of Garland, which was organized by American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), a free-speech organization that is also described as a hate group, and that paid $10,000 for extra protection.
The shooters, who injured a security guard before they were shot dead by a police officer using his duty pistol, wore protective gear and carried extra ammunition in their car, Garland police spokesman Joe Harn said. No bomb was found in their vehicle.
After two gunmen opened fire at the site of a Muhammad cartoon drawing contest Sunday night in Garland, Texas, the American Freedom Defense Initiative, which organized the event, is once again in the spotlight.
Here are five things you should know about the group.
1. Anti-Islam or pro-free speech? The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremist groups, lists the American Freedom Defense Initiative as an "active anti-Muslim group."
The New-York-based AFDI says its goal is simply to "go on the offensive when legal, academic, legislative, cultural, sociological, and political actions are taken to dismantle our basic freedoms and values."
2. Pamela Geller is the group's executive director. Again, the SPLC describes her as "the anti-Muslim movement's most visible and flamboyant figurehead."